UF to study fatal heart disease in Doberman pinschers

The inherited disorder can cause sudden death or can eventually lead to congestive heart failure

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The influence of genetic mutations on the development of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in Doberman pinschers is the focus of a new study.

A potentially fatal heart disease, dilated cardiomyopathy affects nearly half of all Doberman pinschers, and strikes this breed more than any other. The inherited disorder can cause sudden death, or can eventually lead to congestive heart failure.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Florida (UF) College of Veterinary Medicine, the trial will follow 300 dogs over their lifetime, with screening tests, owner surveys, and outcomes recorded for each dog.

In addition, the study will evaluate the effect of environmental factors, diet, dietary supplements, and the amount and type of daily activity on the expression of this disease.

So far, almost 200 dogs have been enrolled in the trial. The team expects to reach full enrollment by February 2019.

“Although there are two known genetic mutations associated with DCM, dogs without either mutation have developed the disease, and dogs with one or both mutations might not ever develop the disease,” said Amara Estrada, DVM, professor of cardiology at UF College of Veterinary Medicine.

“We have multiple projects happening simultaneously designed to understand why some of these Doberman pinschers develop the disease and others do not.”

Although genetics determine a risk for developing a disease, scientists don’t really know much beyond that, said Ryan Fries, DVM, one of the researchers and a specialist in veterinary cardiology and assistant professor at the University of Illinois (U of I). Nancy Morris, DVM, of Mass Veterinary Cardiology Services in Agawam, Mass., is also part of the research team.

“If you look at a population and all you know is the genetic status, you can make a statement such as 80 percent of dogs with this mutation will develop the disease,” Fries said.

“But what is unique about those 20 percent? What factors influence the 80 percent? Maybe our study will shed some light on those factors in addition to providing basic information about the entire population.”

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Estrada and veterinary cardiology collaborators across the country have spent almost a decade studying the disease.

“Important questions have arisen during these evaluations, and we have now launched a prospective clinical trial enrolling 300 Dobermans who have been screened for DCM and followed longitudinally at our respective veterinary practices, national, and regional shows,” Estrada said.

The Doberman Pinscher Club of America (DPCA) will be funding the study, which is expected to cost $12,250.


15 thoughts on “UF to study fatal heart disease in Doberman pinschers

  1. I have a 2 year old Doberman pinscher with DCM that has passed genetic testing. How are yo choosing dogs to be in the study?

  2. Last year Dr Fries gave my Doberman, Rayne her first echo when she was two years old at the Doberman Nationals. Everything came back within the normal range. She also donated blood for research. In Jan or Feb this year Dr Fries sent me a letter telling me that she tested positive for DCM1 and DCM2.
    This year at the Doberman Nationals Dr Fries preformed Rayne’s second Echo and diagnosed Rayne with DCM.
    Is there anyway Rayne could participate in this study?

    1. Patti Fetzer, I’m sorry to hear this. I am a breeder and this is why I personally prefer the DNA or blood test for this (DCM) that looks for the repeated gene instead of the echo’s or holters because it can change that quick. She passed her test with good results but the blood told you more. I hope with you finding this out early in her life she can be with you much longer. Even if they are free from this genetically – I still believe it can develope with old age as seniors just like people do. Once again this is just my personal opinion and yes I do test for this.

  3. To those who are interested in participating in the research with their dogs, you’ll be better served if you contact the Cardiology Dept at UF directly–the researchers aren’t likely going to be reading the comments here.

    There is a national database for veterinary clinical trials, that you can also check to find out when a study is recruiting for participants:

  4. I have a 3 month old male. Both his parents were clear of DCM markers. I also have a 3yoa female that has both makers, but is still healthy. Can they be part of the study.

  5. Am so glad you are studying this. Or doberman died of DCM before his third birthday. I hope you can find some answers so that others don’t have to suffer from this loss!

  6. Our first doberman died at age 7 from heart disease. We have a 6 month old dobie now and would love to be in the study.

  7. What geographic region do you need to live in to participate? I have 3 dobermans – have done DNA testing on all through Embark & Doberman Diversity Project. One is “at risk” for DCM. Next step is DCM2 test – and halter, echo, etc.
    We live in upstate NY and would love to participate if we can. Two females (4, 3 1/2) and a male 8 months. They’re all related. Females have same parents. Male is the nephew of females (his Mom is my older girl’s litter mate)

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